Autism is a disorder that affects children at the very tender age of their lives especially within the first three years. This disorder affects the brain of the child during growth so that it does not develop in the right way thus affecting the social and communication skills of the child. A child suffering from autism will not have the ability to coordinate things since they do not make sense to him or her.
A question most parents ask themselves on finding out that their child is suffering from autism is, where did this condition come from? This question is again very difficult to answer because the exact causes of this disorder have remained unknown despite the fact that much research has been done in this field (Reiss, 2009, p.87).
It can therefore be argued that autism comes about as a result of a combination of a variety of factors such as genetic factors, problems during pregnancy and birth, nutrition and developmental factors. This paper is therefore an analysis of autism disorder and what it means to have autism or to be a parent of a child with autism disorder.
Characteristics and symptoms of Autism
Children suffering from autism disorder show diversified characteristics depending on the degree and type of autism although there are common symptoms shared by all patients. These include;
Problems in communication
Autism patients suffer from communication problems whereby they are not able understand as well as engage in meaningful communication. This is because they have underdeveloped speech patterns and are slow to develop language. In most cases they use words inappropriately making it difficult to understand them. In very severe cases, autistic children are not in a position to interpret gestures or even facial expressions.
Poor social relationships
Due to difficulty in communication, autistic children encounter problems developing social relationships with even people close to them such as their parents. Because the other people do not understand them and so is their ability to understand the other people thus making it difficult to interact.
This is a peculiar characteristic of autistic children, in that they want their things to be done in the same way without even the slightest change of routine. For example they may insist that their toys or clothes are arranged in a particular manner failure to which may make them very upset to even having temper tantrums.
The other general characteristics of autistic children is the they are most of the time loners and would like to sit and play alone far from the other children and even adults (Reiss, 2009, p.92). They also react differently to the environment for example very loud music causing nuisance could be fascinating and making them very happy while on the other hand normal music may be very nagging to their ears.
Aetiology of the disorder
Research done has indicated that People with a history of the disorder in their family chain are at more risk of having the condition. Genetics plays a great role in the development of the disorder however there are other contributing factors such as neural levels, nutrition among others. Other causes could be synaptic dysfunction as well as some uncommon forms of mutations.
Diagnosis of Autism
The diagnosis of autism is normally based on the behavioural characteristics of the child. For a parent to know if their child is suffering from the disorder, they have to look at the way the child behaves within its first three years of life. A physician or paediatrician will diagnose the disorder by having physical examination of the child as well having the past history of the child’s development.
Due to the fact that it is sometimes not very easy to detect or distinguish the disorder, it is important that the eligibility of the examining physician or paediatrician is established to ensure that proper diagnosis is made.
On diagnosis of the disorder, treatment is recommended. Though complete treatment of the disorder is not available, management of autism is the recommended option which in the long run leads to recovering from the condition. Common methods of management include; medication, physical therapy, speech-language therapy, applied behaviour analysis as well as occupational therapy.
All the aforementioned therapies are available in health care facilities, educational institutions and support groups. Thus, the placement of autistic children can be in either of the aforesaid institutions or rather at home. Therefore family members can be trained on how to manage a child with autism so that the child grows up few challenges due to the condition (Reiss, 2009, p.88).
The early experiences with professionals in terms of: diagnosis, eligibility and placement of a child with autism
Unlike most disorders, autism was not known in the past years. Parents as well as professionals never had clear understanding of the disorder, its causes, treatment and management. This therefore led to most children ending up being ‘disabled’ and not able to be independent.
As for the professionals, other than the specialised physicians most of them were not in a position to diagnose the disorder hence leading to treatment of other diseases leaving the condition unattended.
When it came to placement, before, the children with this disorder were left to mingle with the rest on their own, something that lowered their self-esteem even further. However, recent developments have been made whereby the children can be placed in special schools, support groups, health care centres among others.
From the above discussion, it can be clearly understood that autism is not one of the common disorders to deal with. This is especially to the child with autism as well as the parents of the child. Life is not the same as that of other children and could therefore have an effect on the self-esteem and self-conduct of the child even on growing up.
As for the parents, the cost of managing autism is very high and also more time and attention is required on autistic children as compared to the normal children. Despite all these, the best way of dealing with this disorder is acceptance and proper management.
Reiss, A. (2009).Childhood developmental disorders: an academic and clinical Convergence point for psychiatry, neurology, psychology and paediatrics. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 50(1-2):87–98.